Fondren Science Series


When Mr. Andy Anderson donated to Southern Methodist University the petrified skeleton of a great marine lizard found on his plantation near Cedar Hill, Texas, he said, "Write about it so common folks can understand." In view of this request, the description of this new and important specimen has been divided into two parts. Part I is a technical description of the skeleton written by S. P. Welles, Principal Museum Paleontologist, University of California (Berkeley), an authority on the elasmosaur group to which the specimen belongs. Mr. Welles completed his manuscript, Part I of Number 1 in the Fondren Science Series (May 10, 1949), after a visit to European museums to study type specimens of the group. Of the value of the fossil donated by Mr. Anderson, Mr. Welles wrote: "There is no question but that your beautiful Elasmosaur is the key to the North American Cretaceous forms, as it is the only one which combines an uncrushed skull with a neck of known length and pectrum. I have seen a quantity of undescribed material but none of it approaches yours in completeness. The only undescribed skull I have seen is at the American Museum, and this skull is badly crushed and the sutures are not determinable. In addition to the splendid preservation of your skull, it is also that of a young animal and the sutures are very clear. It will undoubtedly be many decades before anything so fine appears again." In the following study, Part II, the writer attempts to comply with Mr. Anderson's request and a!so to discover whether or not the specimen throws new light on the habits and habitat of the elasmosaurs. Included are accounts of the discovery of the skeleton; a discussion of the correlation of the elasmosaurs and their environments; microscopic cross sections of the bony structure of the skeleton; a pictured study of its gastroliths; and a history, with pictures, of various restorations of the group.

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